By Kallie Gregg
Last school year, three Davis High students took control of their destinies and did what no other students have done before. The three girls became the first Blue Devils to earn letters as equestrians.
The DHS trio — Holly Nuovo, Aleson Laird and Stream Tuss — all achieved varsity status after training for the 100 required hours and competing in a minimum of five horse shows.
Under a program created by U.S. Equestrian Federation, high school-aged riders can earn their varsity status if they display the necessary dedication to their sport.
“High school equestrians have earned their place among the most dedicated athletes,” writes USEF chief executive officer John Long on his organization’s website. “Not only are they putting in long hours to train for and compete in the sport they love — they do so while taking the concept of teamwork to the highest level, forming a partnership with a horse to achieve their goals.”
The program is open only to riders who have a USEF membership.
Nuovo and Tuss are seniors at Davis High while Laird is a sophomore.
All three are trained by Melissa Blissett at the Sterling Riding Academy, and each shows in the hunter-jumper category.
Blissett expressed pride at the Devil trio’s dedication to their riding that allowed them to claim the first three spots as varsity equestrians at DHS.
Tuss, too, was delighted with the outcome.
“The experience was good,” she said. “I enjoyed the experience as strongly as I do my love for being with, and riding, horses.
“The required training was only a little more intense than in my earlier years — though in a good way, because the training was not only for the day-to-day learning and experience, but also for learning the different ways of how to prepare myself and the mare I am riding in the competitions.”
Tuss has been riding for 10 years, seven with Blissett.
The USEF program is considered a big achievement for equestrians. For most campuses, it marks the first time riders are able to be recognized by their schools for the sport, thus being able to display their accomplishments on a letterman’s jacket, the same as any other school athlete.
“Until now, most high school students haven’t had the opportunity to letter in equestrian, simply because there are so few school-sponsored programs,” Long continued. “We look forward to the beginning of a new tradition, where equestrians are able to earn the recognition they deserve, alongside their fellow athletes and classmates.”
Over the years, many DHS students have been involved in riding, yet no student has been recognized officially by school officials.
Now — thanks to the work of the USEF, the training from people like Blissett and the dedication and skill shown by athletes like Laird, Nuovo and Tuss — riders everywhere are getting overdue and earned acknowledgement.
Notes: Davis High is the alma mater of silver medal-winning Olympian Gina Miles. … Blue Devil basketball forward Tori Powell is one of a handful of accomplished equestrians currently on campus.